Friday, May 30, 2014

"Read, kids, read"

Now where have you heard that before?

At Commits, for sure. Since April 2003, when I began teaching journalism, I have been pushing my students to read. (Sometimes, they push back, and that, I have to say, is a big concern for me.)

In June 2010, I also wrote a blog post on the subject: "Why you must read".

And I have been using my social media accounts in a big way to try to popularise reading.


So you can imagine how thrilled I was when, two days ago, first thing in the morning, I received this message via Facebook from Commitscion Monika Khangembam (Class of 2012), with a link to an article by Frank Bruni in The New York Times:

Monika Khangembam
This article reminded me of you sir.
After I sent a message thanking her, Monika replied:

Yay! I am so glad you liked it. The ideas expressed in the article resonate with what you mostly say in class and how you keep telling us to read more. I can also imagine you encouraging (read nagging) your nieces and nephews to read. 

During the course of our text conversation, Monika revealed she is reading The Fault in Our Stars, which finds mention in the NYT article, too. So I replied:

What a wonderful coincidence. I bought a copy of this book for the college library some time ago, but before placing it in the library I read it to try to understand why it had become a bestseller. It is an excellent book, for young people especially. I loved the highly original plot.

Monika then articulated her own thoughts about the book:

That's amazing sir. I am not so much into these young adult novels but I accidentally came across this and I am glad I did. The characters feel so real. I can so relate to Hazel. You relate to her more if you are a 20-something and still struggling to understand your life. There is this particular part in the beginning where Augustus talks about oblivion and how Hazel responds to that. That has helped me to be less scared and be a bit more adventurous. It's funny how a few lines can influence us so deeply.

And it's amazing, I thought to myself, how a few lines written by my student about the transformative power of reading can brighten my day like nothing else can. Thanks a million, Monika!

  • There's more good news on the reading front. Commitscion Sruti Nayani (Class of 2004), who has been blogging about books for some six months now, has just published a post about the importance of writing. Sruti makes six important points in the post. Here is the first one:
Read and read some more. I do not know how one can begin writing if one does not read; reading is essential. You could begin with newspapers, magazines, essays, short stories, fiction, non-fiction or even articles. Basically, just about everything. The idea is to find a path to the written word. This kind of reading could help you to understand the different types of writing and eventually develop your own style.

Now where have you heard that before?
“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
reading The Fault in Our Stars.
Like · ·
Frank Bruni's article is so inspiring
BISWAJIT DEY (Class of 2016): I read the article by Frank Bruni just now. I found it really inspiring this was the first time I got to know that there are so many positive aspects to reading other than gaining knowledge; reading acts as therapy too. Thanks for sharing, Sir.

  • Patrick Michael, editor of the Dubai-based Khaleej Times, commented via Google+
Ramesh, as a voracious reader, it's heartening to read that the message is getting home. I'm sure many more will realise the benefits of reading. Anything and everything. Comics included.

I follow most of the links you send and some I forward to a few of my colleagues who, despite the many years of experience under their belt, still believe that life is a learning curve and you can learn more from books than from idle chatter.

My next book: Straight to Hell: True and Glorious Tales of Deviance, Debauchery and Billion Dollar Deals. Read all about it here. Can't wait to get my hands on this mother of lies!

Oh, the pleasures of reading!

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